Yamileth Mercado of Ciudad Cuauhtemoc, Mexico won a hard-fought unanimous decision over Paulette Valenzuela Saturday night at the Centro de Convenciones in Xochitepec, Mexico, just outside of Cuernavaca.

Scores were 98-92, 98-92, and 97-93 for Mercado, who improved to 22-3, 5 knockouts and successfully made the sixth defense of her WBC world Female junior featherweight title. 

Mercado was the more-effective fighter during the first three rounds of the fight. She was able to connect with right crosses, and was able to force Valenzuela to fight off her back foot or off the ropes. Valenzuela would inadvertently push down the back of Mercado’s head after throwing a left hook, forcing referee Rafael Saldana to admonish her.

Valenzuela did her best work during the middle rounds. She initiated exchanges by closing the distance and putting Mercado on the defensive.

Both stood and traded in the second half of the sixth round, producing back-and-forth exchanges between the two.

During an exchange in the seventh round, Valenzuela suffered a cut over her left eye. It was not certain whether the cut was from an accidental clash of heads or from a right hand by Mercado. 

Mercado was able to effectively outbox Valenzuela during the final three rounds of the fight. She was able to connect with lead and counter right hands to the head. Despite being game, Valenzuela’s punch output dropped compared to the first half of the fight.

The 25-year-old previously fought on March 18, defeating Zimbabwe’s Kudakwashe Chiwandire by unanimous decision. On October 29, Mercado defeated longtime world titleholder Mariana Juarez by decision.

Mercado has won her last four bouts since going up in weight and losing to undisputed featherweight champion Amanda Serrano by unanimous decision in August of 2021. 

Valenzuela, who resides in Tijuana, Mexico, falls to 16-3, 4 KOs. The 32-year-old had won her previous three fights since losing to Segolene Lefebvre by unanimous decision in November 2021. 

The fight headlined a fight card promoted by Fernando Beltran and Zanfer Boxing

Francisco A. Salazar has written for BoxingScene since September 2012 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (California) Star newspaper. He can be reached by email at santio89@yahoo.com or on Twitter at FSalazarBoxing